Jottings and Questions V – Tax Cuts, Frivolous Challenges and the Middle Class

Why is there such a push by Republicans to save the tax cuts that obviously didn’t help the economy?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for middle-class tax cuts, and it isn’t because it helps me, I don’t make enough to really benefit from them.  But the only thing a tax-giveaway for the rich (let’s call it what it is) helps the economy is to allow them to invest more in crooked politicians who support corporations, not individuals.  The goal for them seems to be an oligarchy where the rich can either buy or steal elections, to the detriment of the other 90% of the population.

Steal election?  What a perfect segue.  I read the first reports from the Governor’s recount.  A challenge by the Emmer camp to a ballot that had an oval mostly filled in for Dayton, but not completely, and a challenge to a ballot that had no mark for governor that the Emmer camp said should be counted for Emmer.  The judges called both those frivolous, but I think there needs to penalties for “frivolous” challenges in the recount.  Kind of like in NFL football when a coach throws the red flag.  In the NFL the coach loses a timeout if the challenge is “frivolous.”  I think for every “frivolous challenge” in this recount, the team making the “frivolous challenge” should lose a vote.  It seems fair to me.  It seems that way only real questionable ballots get challenged and the recount finishes much sooner. 

Speaking of that blank ballot that Emmer “challenged” as an Emmer vote, it is interesting to me that Republicans are so keen to get voter ID verification to prevent election “cheating.”  Counting a blank vote for your own team sounds a little like cheating to me.  I’m convinced that any voter ID programs would just reduce the number of Republicans cheating.  The problem is that it will disenfranchise plenty of poor, elderly and handicapped people from voting too, so I am willing to let a few Republicans cheat to ensure the others can vote.

Is there any excitement that the Twins won the bidding war to attempt to sign Tsuyoshi Nishioka.  I have not heard much, but I have heard he seems to be hurt every year.  Great, he’ll fit in with the Twins’ other stars…

Finally, I just want to add that half of the families in Minnesota (not individuals, families!) make under $57,000 per year.   The Chamber of Commerce and their political arm, the Republican Party, keep pushing for tax cuts.  What will a tax cut provide to much more than half the state’s population?  Very little, but the cut in education, good roads and public safety have the potential to hurt those families in ways many of us cannot comprehend.  Tax cuts for the rich do nothing but line their pockets with money, and they in turn will line the pockets of the politicians supporting that greed.  Let’s work on turning this back around in 2012 and electing people who are more concerned about individuals than corporations.

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3 thoughts on “Jottings and Questions V – Tax Cuts, Frivolous Challenges and the Middle Class”

  1. “Frivolous” challenges – I am not an expert, but I believe the law was changed giving the counties greater authority to dispose of challenges that they deemed to be frivolous. My impression is that they could be resolved at the local level (although retained for potential review by the State Canvassing Board, if need be.) Previously, all challenges went to the State Canvassing Board (as I recall during the first phase of the State Canvassing Board’s work during the 2008 Senate recount that the SCB asked the candidates to review those challenges before they started to evaluate them … both campaigns then reduced the number of challenged ballots dramatically.)

    MPR’s Polinaut has a story of the challenges in Renville County … Emmer’s team challenged 423 while Dayton’s team challenged zero … but by the end of the day, the county was able to resolve all but one.

    One has to suspect that some of these challenges are to justify the reason for the recount — and to help raise money. IF they can report high numbers of challenged ballots, then contributions are more likely to be made … plus they can they show to their supporters that they are “fighting a good fight”.

    IMO, Mr. Emmer needs to ManUp … in other recounts, the candidate has reviewed the process and determined early on that although the margin may change, the outcome would not and then stopped the recount. State employees are wasting their time on this endeavor … and we taxpayers are paying their salary.

    Tax Cuts – I am a big believer in Zero-based budgeting … in essensce, it requires that the existence of a government program or programs be justified in each fiscal year, as opposed to simply basing budgeting decisions on a previous year’s funding level.
    The same concept should be used for taxes.
    WHY is it that the Bush Tax Cuts should retained in their current format … has the deficit grown or shrunk over that time ? Is the burden properly allocated ? For example, consider that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have just been added on to deficit, who and when will anyone address paying for them. What’s wrong with a Global War on Terror surtax ? And should that surtax be reflective of how much you have at risk ?
    What did the Bush tax cuts do right … and what did they do wrong ?
    Well, we know that jobs were not created in America and that more American corporations expanded business overseas … should that be addressed ?
    We know that “working wages” incurred a higher tax rate than “passive investment income” …. all that did was help to create the financial meltdown as hedge fund managers paid 15% income tax rates … the same rates as a single wage earner who earns $34,000 a year. We know that the estate tax went to Zero so that the Paris Hiltons never have to pay taxes on their inheritances.
    Who said 15% or 35% is the right rate … why not 16% or 36% … would 1% really kill anyone … if I make $34,000 that would impact me $340 a year … less than $1 a day … however to the high wage earner although they would be paying more in taxes, their lifestyle would not change.

    Zero-based budgeting would force Congress to take a hard look at what programs are growing and which are operating within its means. For example, over the past decade, U.S. defense spending has grown to roughly $700 billion a year, higher in real dollars than any year since WWII … it now accounts for the same portion of the budget as Social Security … with one exception, Social Security is still taking in more money than it pays out … and the Social Security surplus is being used to fund other spending (like the military industrial complex).
    Congress should take a hard look at the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, V-22 Osprey, the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), JLENS, etc. … heck, MEADS is replacing the PATROIT missle detection program that is still being used and the F-18 fighters are still some of the most advanced planes in the world … why are we spending so much for the next-generation of fighting equipment when the current designs seem to be working … and let’s ask ourselves why we need the EFV when that last time there was an amphibious landings was the Battle of Inchon in Korea … and that was in 1950.

    The focus should not be on tax rates, but instead where we are spending our money. Oh, and by the way, many of these military programs are funded through “earmarks” … so that Congress can tell the Pentagon what it wants — instead of listening to the Pentagon that does not want a number of programs that Congress keeps funding. Your Congressman, John Kline is a BIG SUPPORTER of EARMARKS for the military industrial complex (he calls them “good jobs programs”).

    IMO, President Obama should have addressed this early on in his term but because of the financial collapse, it would have been difficult to enact the changes necessary … if only he had taken the working class tax cuts that were in the American Recover and Reinvestment Act and made them permanent by paying for them starting in 2011 with higher tax rates on those making over $250K.

  2. Minnesota Budget Bites put out some information on options on raising revenue to help with the states deficit, http://www.mncn.org/bp/raisingrevenue.html

    Proposal

    Create new income tax bracket on high-income households FY 2011 $170 million FY 2012-13 $468 million
    Enact a 10 percent income tax surcharge FY 2011 $688 million FY 2012-13 $1.6 billion
    Return income tax rates to 1998 levels FY 2011 $820 million FY 2012-13 $1.8 billion
    Return top income tax rate to 1998 level FY 2011 $140 million FY 2012-13 $383 million
    Eliminate certain business tax preferences FY 2011 $156 million FY 2012-13 $283 million
    Enact a corporate tax throwback rule FY 2011 $15 million FY 2012-13 $40 million
    Eliminate sales tax exemption on clothing FY 2011 $258 million FY 2012-13 $604 million
    Eliminate sales tax exemptions on many consumer services FY 2011 $372 million FY 2012-13 $868 million
    Increase alcohol taxes FY 2011 $121 million FY 2012-13 $278 million

    Combining some of these with certain cutbacks seems more of an appropriate approach to MN’s budget problem than the constant cutting of services and funding which seems to be falling on our children, our elderly, and our police/fire and road maintenance.

    What do you think?

    Do you think closing loop holes in business/corporations like the following would be a good idea?

    Instituting a “throwback rule” http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1868
    which would allow Minnesota to tax corporation for profits not taxed in any other state.

    Repealing the Foriegn Operating Corporations special tax treatment which allows 80% of the profits to be treated as foreign, repealing this would allow MN to treat all profits as domestic and be able to tax these profits.

    Ending the Foriegn Royalty exclusion.

    I believe ending these “special” or “exlusions” is not a new tax or a tax increase it is stopping the loss of possible revenue.

    Sin Taxes have been a big topic paying for stadiums and sports teams. I feel Sin Taxes should go toward our general budget first, and then to health and safety second, and then when we have a cushion for future recessions, use Sin taxes for other projects that everyone can use.

    What do you think Sin Taxes should be used for?

    1. Thanks ardentmeld. I think sin taxes should be used for the problems caused by the sin, generally health and human service issues. After that, the general budget because everything is affected by healthcare costs.

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